It’s been a longtime coming in the tumultuous life of the former heavy-weight champ.
The once-proclaimed “baddest man on the planet” fumbled for words that wouldn’t come. Sylvester Stallone knew exactly what Mike Tyson was feeling.
Both were inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday, Tyson for his reign as heavyweight champion of the world, Stallone for his “Rocky” movie series, and the fans turned out in droves on a rainy, overcast afternoon.
Thousands packed every corner of the induction grounds, and Tyson was no match for the emotion of the moment.
“I’ve got to be goofy about this or I’ll get emotional up here,” Tyson warned before trying to honor the late trainer Cus D’Amato, who became his legal guardian after Tyson’s mother died and taught him the finer points of the sweet science in a gym in Catskill, N.Y., just a 2½-hour drive from the Hall of Fame.
As Tyson paid tribute to his beloved trainer it got harder and harder for him to maintain his composure.
“All this stuff started when I met Cus, and Bobby Stewart (a social worker and boxing fan who introduced Tyson to D’Amato),” Tyson said. “I was in reform school because I was always robbing people.
“All my life I watched these guys. I look at them different,” Tyson said as he looked around at a dais that included hometown heroes Carmen Basilio and Billy Backus, Jake LaMotta, Leon Spinks, George Chuvalo, and Marvin Hagler, among others. “Why would I want to be like these guys I always say. I don’t know.
Tyson paused briefly — the crowd erupted in “Come on Mike!” — and then he tried in vain to continue.
“Oh, man,” Tyson said. “I have to take my time with this because there’s other guys up here, you know. When I met Cus, we talked a little bit about money, but we wanted to be great fighters.
“Hey guys, I can’t even finish this stuff. Thank you. Thank you,” Tyson said, then sat down.
Good to see ol’ Mike get something that is definitely well-deserved. Mazel Tov!
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